When I registered for classes over the summer I knew one thing: I had to take Rome Sketchbook. I’ve always enjoyed doodling for fun; however, I have no formal classroom experience besides art class in elementary school where I glued popsicle sticks together for five years straight. Although I was nervous about not being able to keep up with the art majors in the class, I just thought the concept of exploring and sketching a new part of Rome every week FOR school credit is a once in a lifetime opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up.
I was clearly very excited about the class going into the semester, and after almost three months of recording the city with a pencil, it’s living up to expectations. Since sketchbook is a four-hour class that only meets once a week, we have plenty of time to explore the area we’re visiting, as well as to develop our sketches. We’ve visited sites such as the Colosseum, Piazza del Popolo, Capitoline Hill, the Jewish Ghetto, the Pantheon, the Non Catholic cemetery, Piazza Navona, Aqueduct Park, and so much more. We’ve also gone to a couple museums and galleries such as The Chiostro Del Bramante so see an exhibition on Escher, as well as the Galleria Doria Pamphili to study Carravaggio’s famous portraiture.
One of my favorite memories from the class is the time we took a day trip to the beautiful town of Tuscania. Tuscania (not to be confused with Tuscany) is located within the rolling hills of Lazio, just an hour and an half outside of Rome. Here we sketched a few different Romanesque churches, various ancient artifacts and sarcophagi at the Etruscan Museum, and the breathtaking landscapes surrounding the walls of the town from a lush park. After a full day of filling up six whole pages in my sketchbook, I was so at peace, yet exhausted. Who knew drawing, such a relaxing activity, could take so much out of you!
Not only do I feel like my drawing skills have drastically improved over the semester, but also that I’ve seen so much of Rome that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t take this class. I didn’t just go to the Colosseum—I also studied the textures of its ancient brick walls and got a free history lesson from my professor. I didn’t just go to Piazza del Campidoglio, I also learned about Marcus Aurelius and took note of how the sun casts different shadows on his bronze statue depending on the time of day.
Another thing I learned is that tourists are fascinated by a bunch of kids sitting and sketching together, and will NOT hesitate to take pictures of you. Needless to say, there are most definitely photos of me and my sketch of the Pantheon floating around in at least eight countries.
Stay tuned for updates on my final project that deals with capturing Rome through one specific aspect of the city!